Bike Borrego Closing Up Shop
Last updated 12/1/2021 at 10:19am
Having had a pretty good run of it over the past 10 years, Dave Duncan has put his iconic Bike Borrego business on the market in order to concentrate on his other interests here in town.
"I've got plenty to do," he said with a smile, detailing his ongoing work as a sitting Borrego Water District Board Director for three years, Borrego's Watermaster for over a year, and his teaching work with the Borrego Springs Unified School District, where he is certified as both an Interpretive Host and Guide for the State Park.
Biking enthusiasts would be wise to mark their calendars for December 1, at which time Duncan will either have sold the business or else hold a 50%-off inventory sale, including more than a dozen eBikes. If you've thought about getting an eBike, get ready for some great bargains.
After spending 40 mostly solitary years at sea as a tugboat and ferry boat captain, Duncan felt the need for more socialization. He came to the realization that his ferry boat customers in the San Francisco Bay area, many with bike rentals from Fisherman's Wharf, were doing bike tours around the bay. There were about 1,500 people per day doing that. Epiphany!
Fast forward to Borrego Springs. At first, Duncan wanted only to rent bikes to tourists and locals, but he soon expanded his service to include repairs and maintenance.
Bike Borrego has been open five days a week, plus allowing for certain customer accommodations when necessary. And then came the start of the eBike explosion. Also called "fat bikes" due to the 4-inch wide tires, these battery powered bikes offered customers an "assist" in covering desert/mountain terrain and paved roads that would, depending on the assist level, cover between 20 – 50 miles before charging. To introduce Borregans to the eBike experience, this reporter wrote an article for the Borrego Sun back in December 2018 about an eBike ride in Yaqui Meadows with Duncan and a few other cycling enthusiasts. Simply put, if you could ride a bicycle, you could ride an eBike, despite certain physical limitations you might have regarding stamina. Even at 70 pounds total weight, handling was easy. Integrating 48-volt, 750-watt, 16 amp-hour battery assist for its seven gears, plus 4-inch wide tires for amazing stability uphill and downhill on rough trails, sand (and even snow), touring Borrego Springs and especially the State Park could be a truly enjoyable experience.
Good exercise came free with the tour, and eBike safety features were also built-in and integrated, such as throttle cut-off when braking. It would be an understatement to say I was stoked by the possibilities. During the COVID Pandemic, I purchased a model identical to the ones at Bike Borrego, and I use it almost every day instead of my car to run errands in town, and even get off-road on occasion thanks to a sturdy bike rack on my car.
Says Duncan, "It's always fun to share peoples' enthusiasm in experiencing something new."
With very few exceptions, Duncan's Bike Borrego experience has been "very positive."
But the COVID-19 pandemic did take its toll on the bike rental business for over a year, with many tourists staying home and self-quarantining rather than venturing out. But they're starting to return, and Duncan feels there is still a need in Borrego for a bike rental business. He's hoping a biking enthusiast who also wants a seasonal side-business will step up and buy the shop, giving tourists (and locals who can keep their cars in the garage) the opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise, and easily explore our desert environment.
One of Duncan's favorite rides is up Fish Creek, a mostly-sandy canyon floor with remarkable geologic features, including samples of ancient sea beds, plus fascinating rock formations on either side of the earthquake fault line running through the mouth of the canyon. The assistance provided by an eBike made the trip I took with Duncan up Fish Creek Canyon and back what I would call both fantastic and "non-exhausting."
For Duncan, his Bike Borrego experience has also provided him the opportunity to be more engaged in a community than he ever was as a mariner. Seven years ago, he was married at Font's Point to his wife, Blanche, a freelance graphic artist, with the ceremony conducted by the late State Park Ranger Steve Bier. Having an interest in and unique knowledge of water issues, Duncan was easily elected to the BWD Board of Directors. And when the Watermaster position became available, he was the man to fill it.
Duncan also loves working with the kids in the school district as Interpretive Host and Guide. "No gangs here, no drug problems," he said thankfully. The kids are eager to learn." And he brings in experts as guest lecturers on occasion – Mark Jorgensen for State Park info; Don Endicott who is researching bats in Palm Canyon; and Hall Cohen on Swainson's Hawks, as examples. He takes the kids on 90-minute hikes during lunch break between classes, such as to Tamarisk Grove out at the S3/Route-78 junction, where Mine Wash offers a unique experience covering more than 1,000 years of local archeology, culture, and history.
So, like the man says, he has plenty to do here in Borrego Springs. We wish him well and hope to hear of a successful sale of Bike Borrego. If not, drop by on December 1 for his inventory sale.